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English student becomes Chinese teacher: Xian works on master's degree while teaching Chinese to American students
Bingjie Zhao
Antelope Staff
Photo by Bingjie Zhao
Huihui Xian, a graduate student in curriculum and instruction from Weifang, misses her home and family in China, but while she is at UNK promotes Chinese language and culture with international students and anyone who wants to learn to speak her language.

Huihui Xian, a graduate student in curriculum and instruction from Weifang, China is not only a student but also an instructor of Chinese in the modern languages department.

After she graduated from Shandong University in China with an English major, she taught English in Shandong University at Weihai for four years. Then, in 2008 she came to UNK for her master’s degree and also another teaching experience.

In the beginning, she found culture shock everywhere, all the time. But as time went on, Xian has learned to love the study environment because she feels that students here are more independent.

As an instructor, she values the close relationship between students and teachers at UNK. The relationship between teachers and students here in United States works better— helping to achieve goals and helping the students to learn, she said.

In Xian’s opinion, in China the teacher dominates the classroom, but in United States, the teacher is a facilitator. Therefore, she feels students here have more freedom to choose and know what they really want to learn. Thus the American students have more passion in the class.

“It seems like the Chinese or Asian students do not feel comfortable showing their opinion in front of the class, Xian  said. “ International students are quiet and do not speak up as much.”

But she also said it is interesting that American students will complain there is too much homework. If they do not like it, they just skip it. However, in China or other countries in Asia, this rarely happens.

Xian said in Asian culture, there is tradition to respect the instructor, and she feels Japanese students keep this tradition even more than Chinese students.

Leaving home for two years was hard for Xian. She wants to go back and bring American visitors to China. She said, “I hope more people join in learning Chinese because it will be helpful.”

She said she can’t wait to graduate because she loves China. “I love my hometown, love my country more since I left there.”

She went back home this past summer and noticed so many changes in one year. “It is obvious you can feel China developing so fast, and its passion and vitality makes you excited. You cannot wait to go
there.”

Every year, groups from UNK visit cities in China.  Last summer, Xian was happy to meet many of them there and helped and guided them in China.

She believes people should go and see what the real China is, and she really wants more people to learn Chinese. “If you are doing some business work, I recommend learning some Chinese and going there to find more opportunities. You will find a huge and vital market,” Xian said.

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